Messing with the horse that brung you

Antitrust+
[Via Daring Fireball]

MG Siegler on Google’s announcement today that they’re going to begin integrating Google+ with regular web search results:

But when they use that natural monopoly to start pushing into other verticals, things get gray. Travel, restaurant reviews, etc, etc. We see more of it each year.

But this, at first glance, seems decidedly worse. Google is using Search to propel their social network. They might say it’s “not a social network, it’s a part of Google”, but no one is going to buy that. They were late to the game in social and this is the best catchup strategy ever.

Count me in with MG here. This seems like classic antitrust behavior: using a legal monopoly in one market (web search) to gain a competitive advantage in a different market (social networking) through bundling. The idea from the outset was to frame “Google+” as an extension of Google, not something new. Hence the name.

It also occurs to me that there’s no company in tech with as many enemies as Google. Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter — Google has taken the fight to all of them. In this sense they’re like Microsoft 15 years ago.

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Messing around with search, something Google has already begun doing, could be the beginning of the end of Google.

Search used to be fairly democratic – if you and i performed the same search we could get the same results. Then some companies started promoting certain sites if they paid for it. But not Google.

It won the space because the results it returned were much more useful than any other one.

Now, the results I get will be different than yours because I have different friends. The usefulness of search now becomes dependent on the usefulness of my social network, which may not be the best way to find things.

Sure, I can turn things on and off  for the moment –but the increasing external complexities added to search by Google serve only to make other search engines more enticing

Not not does it enhance the chances that I will only hear about the same things my group already knows, lessening the actual transfer of information, but – as mentioned above – adds a monopoly aspect to the idea of search.

I signed up for Google + but have refused to use it because I do not like giving Google so much access to my personal network. Now we see that Google has enough access to begin using that network for searching.

Glad I keep my social network separate from my search.

2 thoughts on “Messing with the horse that brung you

  1. But if you have signed up for Google +, doesn’t google already have your information? Can’t they already spy on you? Seems to me that the great flaw in all “social” networks is the information that can be downloaded about you and your friends.

    1. I set up an account essentially to squat on my name so it is usable. But, as with Facebook, I am very careful what I use it for. I’ve decided not to use Google + for much of anything at the moment simply because Google is trying to get itself insinuated in way too many things that do not make a natural fir with search. This increases the chance – to my mind – that it will find ways to use the information for its own uses, not mine.

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